Dalla Terra Winery Direct is a national agent and direct importer of a small and select group of leading, family-owned wineries in Italy. Dalla Terra means “from the earth” in Italian, and the estates we represent are terroir-driven icons not only of each province or region, but of Italy as a whole. Italian-focused from the very beginning, at Dalla Terra we pioneered a unique approach to bringing wines from Italy to the U.S. market.
Company History Dalla Terra was founded in 1990 by Brian Larky, who had developed a deep interest in wine more than a decade earlier and chose to get a degree in fermentation sciences from the University of California at Davis. He initially followed the winemaking path, with production jobs at Napa Valley wineries such as Far Niente and Domaine Chandon. Broadening his horizons, in 1985, Brian took a harvest job in Italy that stretched into five years working as a winemaker for the sparkling wine producer Ca’ del Bosco in Lombardy’s Franciacorta region. At that point, his focus shifted from being a winemaker to becoming an importer of Italian wines.
Brian developed an innovative approach with the Winery Direct model, where the goal was to minimize the footprint of the importer. The new company, Dalla Terra Winery Direct, was designed from the start to serve more as a facilitator for wines moving straight from Italian wineries to U.S. distributors rather than as a separate tier of its own. To make this idea work, Brian and his fledgling company needed two things: a cadre of excellent Italian wineries that shared the same vision of direct importation, and a sales team in the U.S. who were as devoted as he was to Italian wine and the direct import concept. If successful, this model would ultimately remove the import bottleneck and reduce the price of wines to consumers.
The Evolution of Dalla Terra Beginning with a strong core group of producers such as Alois Lageder and Marco Felluga and adding to it over the years, Dalla Terra successfully attracted a carefully curated selection of properties that offer a remarkably broad array of Italian wines. Today, the Dalla Terra portfolio consists of family-owned producers who personify their region and the best practices of winemaking. The majority of them are proponents of sustainable, organic, or biodynamic practices. Over the years, we have enjoyed the advantage of seeing multigenerational ownership of our partner wineries, with families now transitioning as the next generations come on board. The entire Dalla Terra team values the connections with our winery partners and enjoys engaging in collaborative strategic decisions as the foundation for long-term successful relationships.
The evolution of the Dalla Terra portfolio has paralleled that of Italian wine’s growth in the United States. Made up of wineries that are dedicated to their land and the wines they produce; the portfolio boasts a collection of world-class estates. Offering the diversity in indigenous grape varieties and wine styles that allows Italy to the occupy the number-one import spot year after year, the portfolio contains everything from limited-quantity niche products to wines and wineries that have been named as wine/winery of the year by esteemed trade publications. Dedicated to the U.S. market, these producers visit cities across the country every year to talk with customers and discuss their wines.
The Dalla Terra Philosophy As we approach our 30th anniversary, Dalla Terra remains at the forefront of Italian wine importers in the U.S. with our unparalleled family of suppliers and employees. By acting as a direct importer, we enable our distributor partners to buy directly from the wineries, guaranteeing wines with exceptional value. This model creates a more favorable situation for all involved: wineries realize higher profitability; distributors earn higher margins and have manageable inventories, with goods that are always correctly priced; and consumers pay anywhere from 15% to 25% less for wines from some of the most respected producers of Italian wine. This financial model fully aligns Dalla Terra with our winery and distributor partners such that all parties are motivated to bring the wines to the market at the best possible price for the consumer, resulting in a win-win situation.
We put a great deal of effort into keeping a very tightly curated portfolio, and it often takes years of discussions before a new winery will be added to the portfolio. We are very aware of market dynamics, and as such we don’t insist that our distributors carry excess wineries or items, allowing them to focus wholly on priorities. Through a rigorous selection process, we ensure that every wine we represent is aligned with the quality of our entire portfolio, ensuring an assembly of top-notch wines and producers. We are mindful of the regions we represent and strive to avoid internal competition in our portfolio, thereby allowing each winery to get its fair share of attention. As an independently owned company itself, Dalla Terra is proud to represent these family-owned wineries.
The Dalla Terra Team At Dalla Terra, we have been equally adept—or lucky—in drawing together a team of talented people to serve as the liaisons between our Italian wineries and our U.S. distributor partners and retailers. Our staff is made up of passionate, dedicated people for whom their role is so much more than a job, but this only begins to describe the people that make up our company. As one distributor partner observed, “Dalla Terra has fantastic representation in their markets. These are people who have a high level of knowledge about wine, who understand their product, and who have a tremendous level of sales capability.” Our goal is to have a diverse team where individual strengths are leveraged across the group to form a network of people who are committed to Italian wine and are respected in their field by customers and producers. Characterized by a never-ending willingness to learn, our team’s longevity speaks to its dedication—employee tenure is typically 10 years or more. Espousing the company’s core values, they truly love what they do and have fun doing it.
Dalla Terra Leadership As we prepare to move into our fourth decade at Dalla Terra, founder Brian Larky continues to stay involved and serves as a sort of “spiritual leader” for the team. The company’s day-to-day management is in the able hands of President Scott Ades, who joined Dalla Terra in 2016 after more than 11 years with distributor-importer The Winebow Group, where he was chief operating officer. Scott is a strong advocate and devotee of Italian wine who has earned a reputation as one of the most esteemed managers in the wine business.
Our Core Values We follow the same guiding principles we did when Dalla Terra was founded in 1990: A commitment to being a good partner and working with good partners to achieve the goal of creating win-win relationships; an unwavering focus on offering an outstanding quality/value relationship to our customers; a belief as a company that we show accountability for our work; the pursuit of innovation, a respect for curiosity, and the encouragement of positivity in all endeavors, both professional and personal; fostering a culture where a spirit of adventure, having a passion for work and cultivating a fun working environment are equally important; and genuinely caring about our partners, our people, and the world around us.